Home | Aquarium Livestock | Nimbochromis linni, the Elephant-nose Cichlid

Nimbochromis linni, the Elephant-nose Cichlid

I love weird fish, and when it turns out to be a cichlid, well, then that’s a bonus. Nimbochromis linni is one of four species that inhabits the sediment-free rocky habitat of Lake Malawi, along with Tyrannochromis nigriventer, Exochromis anagenys and Aristochromis christyi. This fish is affectionately known as the Elephant-nose Cichlid for its uniquely shaped face. 

Because of the linni’s large size (up to 14 inches) they cannot penetrate the hideaways of small prey fish, but they have another way of catching their meals.

This Nimbochromis is specialized in snatching young Mbuna (rock-dwelling cichlids) out of cracks between rocks. With its mottled pattern, it blends in well with its environment as it slowly cruises through the habitat and looks for a specific place to feed. Once it has found a location populated with young Mbuna, it drops down onto a rock above the crevice where the prey are hidden.  There it remains motionless for several minutes, watching the young Mbuna in the cracks, with its protruding snout at the edge of the rock.  When one of unsuspecting Mbuna comes out of the crevice, it is sucked into the linni’s mouth like being sucked into a vacuum cleaner!

Another interesting behavior exhibited by the linni is shown when they’re ready to spawn. They have a short breeding period every year, and during that time they stop eating for the entire duration. During the breeding period, the males lose their mottled pattern and turn dark blue all over, with a black and red anal fin edged in yellow. Ripe adult females also tend to lose their mottled pattern. The male only defends one territory during breeding season.

This happens to be a species that I have never kept. They are not common in the hobby, but I know one day I will purchase some fry and see if they hunt in the aquarium the same way as they do in the wild. Even if they don’t, they’re still a cool looking fish. If you come across these guys in the trade, do yourself a favor and get yourself a pair –  you wont regret it!

Until next time,



  1. avatar

    Man thats a cool cichlid…..

  2. avatar

    The introductory paragraph is misleading, as their are many species that inhabit the sediment-free rocky habitat of Lake Malawi, not just the four species mentioned. Remember, Lake Malawi has at least 800 species, and approx. half the shoreline is rocky.

About Jose Mendes

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That Fish Place’s resident “Cichlid Pro.” In addition to working at TFP for 13 years, Jose’s been breeding Cichlids for over 14 years and has produced over 200 different species. Jose is the man to question for everything cichlid. Check out Jose’s work in the article: Keeping and Breeding African Cichlids in Small Aquariums, and his many other contributions on cichlid husbandry, behavior, and his personal experiences with keeping cichlids from across the globe.